Do Diploid Dave and Zelinda Zygote Get Equal Protection?

Robert Gladd

The current language of the Constitution extends full protection only to "persons born or naturalized" here, stating additionally that "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." As Supreme Court Justice Scalia has said: "I think when the Constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws, I think it clearly means walking-around persons. You don't count pregnant women twice."

Does
the second drawing below rightfully ("morally") portray a "person,"
within the proper Constitutional construction of such a "human being"
— given the depiction therein of a spermatozoon having penetrated the
cell wall of the ovum and thereby establishing a complete complement of
chromosomes? (We assume for the sake of this rumination that it’s an
illustration of a new human zygote.)

Why posit the question?
Well, consider recent remarks proffered by former presidential
candidate and religous conservative former Arkansas Governor Mike
Huckabee in support of a Colorado "Human Life Amendment" initiative, as recently reported:

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…"This
proposed constitutional amendment will define a person as a human being
from the moment life begins at conception," Huckabee said in a
statement, according to a Denver Post report.

"With this
amendment, Colorado has an opportunity to send a clear message that
every human life has value. Passing this amendment will mean the people
of Colorado will protect the sanctity of life from conception until
natural death occurs," he said.

Huckabee also has expressed support for a similar amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Pro-life
activists in Colorado now are in the process of collecting the 76,000
petition signatures they will need to put their proposal on the 2008
election ballot. The state Supreme Court previously approved the format
of the proposal for the ballot.

The plan would grant personhood
to the unborn from the moment of fertilization, meaning state and local
laws protecting any individual life would be applied to the unborn. It
targets a loophole the U.S. Supreme Court created when it issued the
original Roe v. Wade abortion opinion.

The opinion said: "(If
the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the
[abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to
life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment."…

Yes,
"Equal Protection," guaranteed by the 14th Amendment in the U.S.
Constitution. Governor Huckabee, we must allow, at least has the
courage of his stated convictions, i.e., whereas the bulk of abortion
and contraception opponents tend to dance euphemistically and
deflectively around the core issue by asserting more imprecisely that "life begins at conception," the Governor wishes to specifically — via constitutional amendment — "define a person as a human being from the moment life begins at conception." Recall that the current language of the Constitution extends full protection only to "persons born or naturalized" here, stating additionally that "nor
shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

"Born," not "unborn."
(hence the end-game need for the Amendment, ultimately —
notwithstanding the ongoing legislative and inferior courts’ patchwork
incremental nibbling at the margins in the wake of Roe).

One case still considered a seminal post- Roe reproductive rights decision is that of the Tennessee Davis vs. Davis frozen embryos dispute:

"…Over
the past several years, some important cases have shed light on the
legal parameters and core ethical issues facing couples who disagree
over the disposition of frozen embryos. The seminal case, Davis v.
Davis,[3] involved a Tennessee couple who attempted for several years
to have children through IVF. The last attempt produced 7 extra
embryos, which were placed in cryopreservation for possible use at a
later time. When the couple signed up for IVF, they did not execute a
written agreement specifying what disposition should be made of any
unused embryos that might result from the cryopreservation process.
Thus, when the couple filed for divorce and the wife wanted to retain
the embryos, the husband filed suit seeking to enjoin the clinic from
releasing them. She sought "custody" of the embryos; he wanted them
destroyed.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee upheld the lower
court’s ruling that the pre-embryos in this case should not be
considered "persons" or "property" in the contemplation of the law, nor
where they afforded protection as "persons" under the federal law as
laid forth in Roe v. Wade.
However, the Supreme Court refused to let stand the lower court’s
ruling that the couple held joint custody of the pre-embryos, noting
that the only outcome allowable was to keep the pre-embryos in
cryopreservation pending the couple’s possible future meeting of the
minds. Instead, the higher Court shifted its analysis to the issue of
whether the couple intended to have children in the future — not
whether they agreed on the disposition of the pre-embryos — and ruled
that the answer turned on the parties’ exercise of their constitutional
right to privacy…
(www.medscape.com/viewarticle/508555)

As
my wife and I were residing in Knoxville at the time, we had more than
just a passing familiarity with this highly visible, acrimonious case.
In fact, we knew the activist "pro-life" attorney who intervened to sue
separately for "foster parent custody" of these frozen embryos (he was denied; the frozen embryos were ultimately destroyed).

Interestingly, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently weighed in on the issue. As reported this past March:

Warrensburg, MO (LifeNews.com, 3/5/08)
— Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia spoke to students at
the University of Central Missouri on Tuesday night and told them that
abortion isn’t found in the Constitution. He also indicated he would be
lucky to get 60 votes in today’s political climate where abortion rules
how senators vote on judicial confirmations.

"The reality is the
Constitution doesn’t address the subject at all," Scalia said of
abortion. "It is one of the many subjects not in the Constitution which
is therefore left to democracy."

"If you want the right to an
abortion, persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a
law. If you feel the other way, repeal the law," he said, according to
a Columbia Tribune report…

Justice Scalia echoed the sentiments during CBS "60 Minutes" interview on April 27th:

WASHINGTON
[AP] — The Constitution doesn’t prohibit abortion any more than it
allows it, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says in a television
news interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Scalia told CBS News’ "60
Minutes" that he may be conservative, but he is not biased on issues
that come before the court. "I mean, I confess to being a social
conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases," Scalia said in
excerpts released Thursday.

"On the abortion thing, for example,
if indeed I were … trying to impose my own views, I would not only be
opposed to Roe versus Wade, I would be in favor of the opposite view,
which the anti-abortion people would like to see adopted, which is to
interpret the Constitution to mean that a state must prohibit
abortion," Scalia told correspondent Lesley Stahl.

"And you’re
against that?" Stahl asked.Scalia replied, "Of course." He said
"there’s nothing" (in the Constitution to support that view.)…

From the subsequent "60 Minutes" Scalia interview transcript:

"My
job is to interpret the Constitution accurately. And indeed, there are
anti-abortion people who think that the constitution requires a state
to prohibit abortion. They say that the Equal Protection Clause
requires that you treat a helpless human being that’s still in the womb
the way you treat other human beings. I think that’s wrong. I think when
the Constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of
the laws, I think it clearly means walking-around persons
[emphasis mine -BG]. You don’t count pregnant women twice."

Yes. That is what the Constitution in fact plainly says, even to us Great Unwashed non-lawyers.

Amendment XIV

Section
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to
the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the
state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which
shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United
States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or
property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So,
in Mr. Scalia’s view, the Constitution neither protects nor prohibits
clinical abortion, consequently "democratic" legislation is the remedy
for proponents of either position. But, legislation has to ultimately
pass Constitutional muster (even by the default circumstance of
appellate challenges declined). Clearly, he would personally favor
legislation outlawing the practice, however, if he is to be taken at
his word, legislation legalizing abortion would also have to be
adjudged permissible a priori
were his view to prevail within The Court (absent some new and
compelling rationale with clear Constitutional implications within an
appellate case seeking Supreme Court review).

This takes us back
to the 14th Amendment. State level or federal legislation prohibiting
clinical abortion (of either the surgical or pharmaceutical variety)
inescapably denies the "equal protection of the laws" accorded by the
14th Amendment to an entire class of "persons born" solely on the basis
of their female gender. Simple plebian yet coherent deductive logic
says that such laws would necessarily and clearly contravene the 14th
Amendment. Many critics of the principal Roe
rationale — a woman’s inviolable (1st trimester only) "right of
privacy" — fault the finding for not ruling primarily on a 14th
Amendment "equal protection" basis. "Privacy," as we have seen
increasingly post- 9/11, can be the shakiest of terrain (across a
number of fronts) upon which to ground constitutional arguments. "Equal
protection," on the other hand, seems intuitively more fundamental and
politically defensible in the aggregate.

There is plainly no way for both an unwillingly pregnant woman and the not-currently-a-"person" zygote/blastocyst/embryo/fetus growing within her gestational organ to be accorded "equal" legal rights (established Roe trimester/"increasing-state-interest" parsing notwithstanding). One or the other must
prevail in the event a woman opts to terminate her pregnancy. Any law
denying a woman this autonomy of personhood looks to be nothing other
than unconstitutional on its face.

That leaves the tactic of the ultimate "democratic" legislation, the one publicly favored by Mr. Huckabee et al
(and, we might safely assume, Justice Scalia), a "Human Life Amendment"
conferring Constitutional "personhood" on the unborn from the
(clinically unknowable) "moment of conception."

What, then,
would be a direct, necessary logical jurisprudential consequence of
such a national "Human Life Amendment" update to our Constitution?

Well,
first, unless a ratified Human Life Amendment contained explicit
language eliminating 14th Amendment "equal protection" minimally with
respect to pregnant women, we would have the problematic, paradoxical spectacle of two Amendments at war with one another.

But wait, there’s more…
Quoting John
C Petrozza, MD, Instructor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
Harvard Medical School; Consulting Staff and Chief, Division of
Reproductive Medicine and IVF, Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology,
Massachusetts General Hospital
:

…Early
pregnancy loss is unfortunately the most common complication of human
gestation, occurring in at least 75% of all women trying to conceive.
Most of these losses are unrecognized and occur before or with the next
expected menses. Of those that are recognized, 15-20% are spontaneous
abortions (SABs) or ectopic pregnancies diagnosed after the pregnancy
is clinically recognized. Approximately 5% of couples trying to
conceive have 2 consecutive miscarriages, and approximately 1% of
couples have 3 or more consecutive losses…

…The incidence of spontaneous miscarriage is 10-15%, whereas the rate of recurrent miscarriage is 3-5%.

Most
studies demonstrate a spontaneous miscarriage rate of 10-15%. However,
the true rate of early pregnancy loss is close to 50% because of the
high number of chemical pregnancies that are not recognized in the 2-4
weeks after conception. Most of these pregnancy failures are due to
gamete failure (eg, sperm or oocyte dysfunction). In a classic study by
Wilcox et al in 1988, 221
women were followed up during 707 total menstrual cycles. A total of
198 pregnancies were achieved. Of these, 43 (22%) were lost before the
onset of menses, and another 20 (10%) were clinically recognized
losses…

OK, for the sake of simple illustration, let’s take the E-Z round number "50%", i.e., from the foregoing: the
true rate of early pregnancy loss is close to 50% because of the high
number of chemical pregnancies that are not recognized in the 2-4 weeks
after conception. Most of these pregnancy failures are due to gamete
failure (eg, sperm or oocyte dysfunction)."

Do
a little basic arithmetic using another recent national round number of
approximately 4,000,000 live births in the U.S. each year. Exclusive of
intentional clinical abortion, 4,000,000/50% = 8,000,000 Human Life
Amendment "persons" conceived each year, four million of them "dead" in utero.

High-minded, vigilant "equal protection," consequently, would mandate that all
of these "weakest among us" be accorded [1] the monitoring by (and
warranted intervention by) expanded "Child Protective Services"
agencies, and [2] in the event of in utero
zygotic/embryonic/fetal demise, full investigations to determine
whether any evidence of criminal or otherwise actionably negligent
"foul play" might have occurred (e.g., beyond willful acts such as
"foul play" might have occurred (e.g., beyond willful acts such as
abortifacient ingestion, or simply dysfunctional maternal "lifestyle"
behaviors that would now necessarily be regarded as tantamount to
"child abuse").

Anyone who thinks there would not arise platoons
of Morally Wonderful, Altruistic "pro-life" lawyers ready and eager to
litigate such mindless "constitutional" inanities has got another
thought coming. Abstruse clean-hands moralism apparently knows no
bounds.

None of the immediately foregoing is intended to take broad-brush pejorative potshots at everyone who opposes abortion. Count me among those who have misgivings with therapeutic abortion being reflexively viewed as "just another birth control method." But I also have misgivings about my right to even opine on the topic, in light of my male gender. What’s the joke? "If men could get pregnant, abortions would be everywhere legal and free."

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”

News Abortion

Iowa GOP Legislator: Ending Legal Abortion ‘Impossible’ Without ‘Personhood’ Laws

Teddy Wilson

GOP-backed "personhood" laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.

An Iowa Republican plans to introduce a measure defining life as beginning at conception in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down an anti-choice Texas law, which has limited states’ ability to restrict abortion care access.

State Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) told IowaWatch that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt proves that the anti-choice movement’s attack on abortion rights is not working.

“The Supreme Court decision reinforced that incrementally ending abortion is impossible,” Schultz said. “You either have it or you don’t.”

So-called personhood laws seek to classify fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as people, and to grant them full legal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

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GOP-backed “personhood” laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.

Personhood bills were introduced this year by Republican lawmakers in Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, and Rhode Island.

Rachel Lopez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told IowaWatch that personhood measures are routinely introduced in Iowa but have failed to gain traction in the GOP-dominated legislature.

“Although we have not yet seen the details of this impending effort, we are confident that it also will fail to advance,” Lopez said. “Personhood bills are a waste of both time and taxpayer dollars, as they have failed time and again in Iowa and other states.”

Iowa lawmakers this year introduced SJR 2001, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution specifying that the document does not secure or protect a fundamental right to abortion care.

SJR 2001 was referred to the senate rules and administration committee, but never received a hearing or a vote.

Schultz, who was elected to the state senate in 2014 after serving in the house, has sponsored or co-sponsored several anti-choice bills while in the state legislature, including personhood measures.

SF 478, sponsored by Schultz during the 2015 legislative session, would have defined “person” when referring to the victim of a murder, to mean “an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.”

Mark Kende, director of Drake University’s Constitutional Law Center, told IowaWatch that Schultz’s proposal would not survive in the courts.

“He can try to pass that legislation but it certainly wouldn’t trump the federal Constitution,” Kende said. “Even if that language got into the state constitution it can’t defy three Supreme Court decisions in the last 40 years.”

Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told IowaWatch that he could not support Schultz’s proposal.

“I’m pro-life and I want to do what I can to encourage things that can protect the lives of unborn children,” Branstad said. “Yet I also recognize that we have to live with the restrictions that have been placed on the states by the courts.”

Branstad signed many of the state’s laws restricting abortion access that came up during the latter part of his first term as governor.